Brexit: UK 'not forced to sign agreement' says Loiseau
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The French President disagrees with Boris Johnson’s Government on 125 fishing licences Britain has denied to small French boats over post-Brexit rights. France even managed to convince 10 EU countries to sign a declaration against Britain urging Johnson’s government to respect Brexit trade deal commitments.
But, according to John Lichfield, EU and French politics expert, EU leaders are not concerned with the French President’s tantrums.
Writing for Politico, he said: “Compared to other UK-EU squabbles, such as the Northern Ireland border dispute, the fish fight does not trouble other EU countries very much.
“Paris insists, however, that these disputes are linked — that they are part of a pattern of aggression by the Johnson government to distract from Brexit calamities.
“Senior Elysée officials say that Macron has lost all patience with his British counterpart and that he wants to deploy all possible means to disprove what he sees as the core lie of Brexit — that the UK is exempt from the need to honour agreements and cooperate with its neighbours.
“What Macron doesn’t seem to have considered is that a cross-Channel war may be precisely what Johnson wants.
“There is nothing that the embattled British government would like more than to change the subject — to noyer le poisson — and distract the public from its self-inflicted energy and supply chain crises with an old-fashioned battle with the wicked French.”
The European Commission will today put to Britain a package of measures to ease the transit of goods to Northern Ireland, while stopping short of the overhaul London is demanding of post-Brexit trading rules for the province.
The EU executive’s measures are designed to ease customs controls, such as the clearance of meat, dairy and other food products, and the flow of medicines to the British province from the UK mainland.
However, it will not open up for renegotiation the protocol governing Northern Ireland’s unique trading position, leaving Brussels and London on a potential collision course.
The EU will later outline a range of proposals aimed at resolving the political stand-off over Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic has promised the measures will be “very far-reaching”, addressing issues over the movement of agri-food goods and medicines across the Irish Sea.
The proposals are expected to significantly reduce the number of checks required on goods being shipped into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
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Oliver Dowden, chairman of the Conservative Party, said the Government will “engage fully constructively” with the EU proposals.
Asked if the EU proposals were enough, he told Sky News: “Well clearly we’ll wait to receive the full announcement from the EU and I know that Lord Frost, as he said yesterday, and the Government as a whole will engage fully, constructively with these proposals.
“It is though important that there is fundamental change to the Northern Ireland Protocol so we’ll be looking to see that, but let’s see exactly what the EU comes up with.”
Mr Sefcovic has also pledged to offer more of a voice for politicians and civic society in Northern Ireland on how the contentious trading arrangements operate.
While the measures may potentially go some way to reducing everyday friction on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, they are unlikely to satisfy a UK Government demand over the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
On Tuesday, UK Brexit negotiator Lord Frost made clear the removal of the ECJ’s oversight function in relation to the protocol was a red line for the Government.
Under the terms of the deal struck by the UK and EU in 2019, the ECJ would be the final arbitrator in any future trade dispute between the two parties on the operation of the protocol.
The UK now wants to remove that provision and replace it with an independent arbitration process.
Mr Sefcovic has insisted that the EU will not move on the ECJ issue.
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